Stillborn babies should be remembered in Christmas cards to help grieving parents, charity urges

Gabriella Swerling
Stillborn babies should be remembered in Christmas cards to help grieving parents, a charity has said.    - ./.

Stillborn babies should be remembered in Christmas cards to help grieving parents, a charity has said. 

Aching Arms, a baby loss charity run by a group of bereaved mothers, provides comfort teddy bears to hospitals and by post to parents whose baby has died during pregnancy or soon after birth. 

The national charity, based in Essex, is appealing for people to remember stillborn babies on Christmas cards this festive season in a bid to help parents deal with grief. A spokeswoman said that the gesture could be “heartwarming” at a difficult time of year. 

A stillbirth is when a baby is born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy. It happens in around 1 in every 200 births in England, according to the latest available NHS figures.

Laura Jones, 36, from Llanelli, in the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire, is among the many thousands of mothers who have sought help from the charity this year. She gave birth to her "treasured" stillborn son Hudson in November at 19 weeks.

Seeing his name in cards helped her other children and "acknowledges the little life that was", she told the BBC.

"Not many of my family and friends mention James at Christmas," said founder Leanne Turner, who lost her son at 23 weeks in 2009.

"Including their names is an acknowledgement that these babies aren't a secret that shouldn't be spoken about."

Some parents said they preferred a symbol or an extra kiss as a reminder of their baby, instead of their name.

Ms Turner said while many families loved to hear their babies mentioned, the charity realised some parents would want their loss to remain very private.

"We each have to find our own way to cope, and that is exactly as it should be," she said.

Another mother who has sought help from the charity, Jade Merifield, 28, of Hillingdon, west London, was heading to hospital to be induced in September 2018 when complications cut off oxygen to her baby. Her son Arlo was stillborn 15 hours later.

"Personally I feel that Arlo was alive for nine months, so he should be included as he would be if he was here," she said. I get quite insulted when he isn't."